On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the death of Antonio de Nebrija, author of the first Spanish Grammar (1492) and the first dictionary of the Spanish language (1495), and inspired by the International Decade of Indigenous Languages started by UNESCO this year, Archives Portal Europe celebrates languages and their uniqueness with an online exhibition showcasing material from its network.
- Traces of Jean-François Champollion's library: the interest for languages and the unlocking of the Egyptian hieroglyphs
- Joseph de Maistre's multilingual writing in his papers and notes
- Papers on the Tocharian languages in the Antoine Meillet Archives
- The defence of the Breton language: a flyer from 1960s
- The Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture collection
- Victor Skretkowicz and the digitisation of the Dictionary of the Scots Language
- The Hardyman Madagascar collection
Language Diversity and Multilingualism in Koç University Library Collections
Koç University Library preserves a valuable and rich manuscript collection whose subjects span a variety of fields, including Turkish poetry, law, geography, astronomy, medicine, philosophy, logic, music, mathematics, chemistry as well as language and cultural history studies.
The collection includes manuscripts that are written in different languages, such as Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Karaman, Crimean Tatar, Crimean Turkish and even bilingual (Persian-Arabic or Arabic-Turkish), and some of these manuscripts are unique testimony of the early Anatolian Turkish language and literature.
Among the dated ones, the oldest manuscript in the collection is “Nazmü’l-Hilāfiyyāt [Manzumetü’n-Nesefiyye]” which dates back to 1100.
The collection was acquired as donations mainly from scholars such as Fuat Bayramoğlu (1912-1996) who served as a diplomat and was poet and author; Şinasi Tekin (1933-2004) who was an acknowledged Turkish linguist professor and Turkologist; Josephine Powell (1919-2007) who was a photographer, traveller and expert on the nomads of Türkiye and their textiles; Mithat Sertoğlu (1991-1995) who served as a journalist and worked as a consultant at Prime Ministry General Directorate of State Archives; and Salim Erel (1929-2014) who was Turkish politician and served as a mayor and the parliament member of the 17th term.
Among the multilingual treasures held by the Koç Library there is the Mousikē technē / Texnologia tes mougikes, a manuscript in Turkish written in Greek alphabet.
The following is an illustration of the tragic love story of Leylā vü Mecnún, (Layla and Majnun) included in a page of MS 06 dating back to 1489, written in Taʿlīq script. Leylā vü Mecnún is the story of these two young lovers who cannot be together because Layla's father disapprove of their relationship, dooming them to be separated a lifetime before finally be united after death.
These time charts from 1288 and notes related to the horoscopes in the margins of the page are instead written in Naskh which is one of the first scripts of Islamic calligraphy to develop, commonly used in writing administrative documents and for transcribing books.
Interesting is also the drawings of a Luwian hieroglyphic inscription on a statue from the Iron Age transcribed by the Turkish archaeologist Hatice Gonnet-Bağana and part of the Hatice Gonnet-Bağana Hittite Collection.
Finally, also from the Hatice Gonnet-Bağana Hittite Collection is this basalt slab (circa 1,200 BC – 500 BC), representing an inscription written in neo-Hittite hieroglyphics.
Traces of Jean-François Champollion's library: the interest for languages and the unlocking of the Egyptian hieroglyphs
Jean-François Champollion was a French philologist and Egyptologist who deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphs in 1822.
Champollion became interested in languages and specifically in hieroglyphs and Egyptian studies at an early age. At the age of 16, he had already mastered several languages and had also given a lecture before the Grenoble Academy arguing that the language spoken by the Egyptians and, consequently, the Hieroglyphic texts were related to Coptic.
After years of closely studying hieroglyphs and the multilingual text found on the Rosetta stone, Jean-Francois Champollion succeeded in 1822 in deciphering the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs through the oval shapes (known as Kharratis) found in hieroglyphic texts, which include the names of kings and queens.
Among the many items enumerated in his inventory [Figures 1-3], the list of books included in his personal library reveal the keen interest that Champollion had for languages and cultivated throughout his entire life.
In the inventory [Fig.3] are listed for instance dictionaries in Arabic, Hebrew and Chinese, twenty-four volumes on the Coptic language; the list mentions also thirty volumes about the History of Egypt, books on the history of Latin Literature and many other tomes about the languages of Eastern Asia.
These books perfectly mirror the interests and the studies to which Jean-François Champollion dedicated his life and that led him to the discovery that enabled the unlocking of the Egyptian language and history.
Joseph de Maistre's multilingual writing in his papers and notes
Joseph de Maistre was a philosopher, writer, lawyer, and diplomat who was a subject of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which he served as a member of the Savoy Senate (1787–1792), as ambassador to Russia for King Vittorio Emanuele I of Savoy, and was also minister of state to the court in Turin (1817–1821).
Joseph de Maistre made significant contributions to the history of social, political, and religious ideas.
He had also seemed to have an interest in linguistics as it is demonstrated to his contributions to the controversy over the origins of language. Moreover, together with French , his mother tongue (as well as almost all of the Piedmontese nobility), and Greek and Latin which he learned during his time with the Jesuits, de Maistre could also speak Italian, English , Spanish , Portuguese and a little German.
The extensive knowledge of many different languages inevitably reflected in his papers and diaries. In his multilingual writings include essays on linguistic matters and about the relationship between languages, sometimes using different languages within the same work.
The Archives départementales de la Savoie holds De Maistre papers and among the written works included in the "Papers and fragments" section of his archive can be found, for instance, a transcription of the text from the Rosetta Stone (1802, ms.a.).
There are also some notes on the "Hebrew language" and the "Oriental languages" (Cagliari, 1802, ms. a.), and "De antiquis litteris haebraeorum et graecorum" (Cagliari, 1802, ms.a.) followed by notes in Latin, Hebrew and Greek.
Papers on the Tocharian languages in the Antoine Meillet Archives
The Tocharian languages are an extinct branch of the Indo-European language family spoken in the Tarim Basin territory by its inhabitants, the Tocharians.
Also known as Arśi-Kuči, Agnean-Kuchean or Kuchean-Agnean, the existence of the Tocharian languages was documented in a group of fragments found towards the end of the 19th Century in the Chinese Turkestan, containing texts in different languages .
On Archives Portal Europe there is an interesting collection of documents related to Tocharians studies. In particular, the Collège de France preserves some papers and fragments of articles written by the French Linguist Indo-Europeanist Antoine Meillet who dedicated part of his studies to investigating Tocharian languages.
The full list of papers and documents related to Tocharian included in the Antoine Meillet archives are available here.
The defence of the Breton language: a flyer from 1960s
The Breton language is a Southwestern Brittonic language which is part of the Celtic language family spoken in Brittany (France) and it is the only Celtic language which is still in use in the European continent.
Breton speakers are mainly located in Lower Brittany, but also, although in a more dispersed way, in Upper Brittany, and in small linguistic enclaves around the world that have Breton emigrants.
However, as the number of Breton language speakers has been declining over the centuries -reaching from a little more than one million speakers around 1950 to about 200,000 in the first decade of the 21st century, Breton is currently classified as "severely endangered" by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.
Due to government initiatives aiming to build a national culture, the usage of minority languages (including Breton) in official contexts and especially in state schools was limited to the point of almost being stamped out in the 19th century. Such practices prevailed until the late 1960s when this tendency was inverted in order to preserve Breton language.
In 1977, schools called Diwan in Britanny were founded to teach Breton by immersion, providing fully immersive education in Breton for thousands of students and contributing to the growing numbers of school-age speakers of Breton.
Moreover, many books and comics have been translated into Breton over the years, one example being The Asterix comic series, since, according to the comic, the Gaulish village where Asterix lives is in the Armorica peninsula, now Brittany.
Thank to all these efforts, the number of children attending bilingual classes has increased by 33% between 2006 and 2012.
Testimony of how hard Bretons fought to have schools in the local language, the cultural value of preserving and passing on the active usage of such language in 1960s is a small flyer for the defence of Breton preserved at the National Archives of France with a reference to the uncle of the then president of France, Charles de Gaulle.
The flyer recites: "Une politique de grandeur exige que l'on exploite et que l'on développe les richesses françaises : la langue bretonne en est une". [ENG translation: "A politic of greatness requires the use and further development of French resources: the Breton language is one such resources."]
The flyer is available on our portal at the following link: https://www.archivesportaleurope.net/ead-display/-/ead/pl/aicode/FR-FRAN/type/fa/id/FRAN_IR_055345/dbid/C731186558/search/0/langue+bretonne
The Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture collection
The Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture (LAVC), which is part of the University of Leeds Special Collections, constitutes a unique collection that comprises the combined multiple media holdings of the archives of the internationally renowned Survey of English Dialects (ca. 1946-1978) directed by Harold Orton, and the University of Leeds' Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies (1964-1983) directed by Stewart Sanderson.
These contain printed, manuscript and photographic paper items, sound recordings held on gramophone disc, open reel and cassette audio tape formats, glass plate and plastic transparencies, video tapes, 16mm and 35mm films.
The subject areas covered include custom and belief, traditional narrative, children's traditions, traditional music (vocal and instrumental), traditional drama and dance, material culture, crafts and work techniques, language and dialect.
Among the many interesting media and archival materials preserved as part of the LAVC collection, here are a couple of images capturing aspects of folklife and children's traditions:
The LAVC holds a series of Questionnaire Response Books and Related Papers which are connected to the main collection of fieldwork data for the Survey of English Dialects (SED) and includes papers created and collected during the drafting, testing and publication of the Questionnaire; original and duplicate response books used by fieldworkers to record informants' responses to the questionnaire.
Browse the LAVC collections on Archives Portal Europe: https://www.archivesportaleurope.net/ead-display/-/ead/pl/aicode/GB-206/type/fa/id/gb206-ms1600/search/0/Leeds+Archive+of+Vernacular+Culture
Victor Skretkowicz and the digitisation of the Dictionary of the Scots Language
Between February 2001 to January 2004, Dr Victor Skretkowicz and lexicographer, Susan Rennie, run a digitisation project of the Dictionary of the Scots Language (DSL), now run by Scottish Language Dictionaries.
Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Dr Victor Skretkowicz (1942-2009) joined in 1978 the University of Dundee as Lecturer in English and in 1993 became Senior Lecturer. In 1989 Victor Skretkowicz become Dundee University's representative on the Joint Council for the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, and in 1992 was elected convenor directing the Edinburgh-based research team creating volumes 9-12 of A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001- 2002).
The Joint Council consisted of representatives from Scotland's oldest universities and was responsible for the financial and intellectual management of the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue.
In 2001, a project began to create an electronic version of the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue.
The Dictionary of Scots Language was to comprise electronic editions of the two historical dictionaries of the Scots Language:
- the twelve volumes of the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, containing information on Scots words from the twelfth century to the end of the seventeenth century (older Scots)
- the ten volume Scottish National Dictionary, containing Scots words from 1700 -1970s (modern Scots).
A screenshot of the home page of the Dictionary of the Scottish Language. Available here: https://dsl.ac.uk/
The project was based at the University of Dundee and was directed by Dr Victor Skretkowicz. The Scottish National Dictionary was produced by the Scottish National Dictionary Association (SNDA), now the Scottish Language Dictionaries Limited. The SNDA received an award from the Heritage Lottery Fund to update the dictionary with a new supplement which was made available as part of the Scots Language Dictionary in 2005. The Scots Language Dictionaries Limited is Scotland's lexicographical body for the Scots language.
Today, the University of Dundee Archive Services preserves a papers related to the work of Dr Skretkowicz and the Dictionary of the Scots Language (DSL) project.
The archival collection comprises:
- Minute papers, general correspondence and microfilm records relating to the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (DOST), 1938-1999
- Minute papers, general correspondence and microfilm records relating to the Dictionary of Scots Language (DSL), 2001-2005
- Microfilm records relating to the Dictionary of the Scots Tongue (DST) and Dictionary of Scotland (DS); Minute papers, budget papers, financial papers, staff records, correspondence and publicity records relating to the Institute of the Languages of Scotland (ILS), 1999-2003
- Various electronic records created, received and maintained by Victor Skretkowicz, c 1993- c 2008
- Papers relating to Victor SkretkowiczÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s time at the University of Dundee, 1999-2004
Browse the collection on Archives Portal Europe: https://www.archivesportaleurope.net/advanced-search/search-in-archives/results-(archives)/?&repositoryCode=GB-254&term=Victor+Skretkowicz&using=all&levelName=archdesc&t=fa&recordId=gb254-ur-sf62
* in the first image: Drs Rennie & Skretkowicz working on DSL1. image source: https://scotlex.org/dictionary-of-the-scots-langua...
The Hardyman Madagascar collection
James Trenchard Hardyman (1918-1995) was born in Madagascar in 1918. He was the son of two missionaries in Madagascar with the London Missionary Society. As a child, James was sent to England to be educated and he became a missionary with the London Missionary Society in 1945. After getting married in 1946, Hardyman lived with his wife in Imerimandroso, Madagascar.
Following his return to England, Hardyman worked as Honorary Archivist of the Council for World Mission at Livingstone House (1974-1991) and for the Conference of British Missionary Societies (1976-1988), overawing the deposit of both archives at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
When Hardyman was eleven, he was given a second-hand copy of a book on Madagascar by Haile, which would become the first book in his personal collection of published and unpublished material relating to Madagascar. Hardyman's collection is probably the most comprehensive personal collection on Madagascar in the world.
Our content provider the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) Archives, University of London comprises a wide variety of papers, writings in the form of published articles, press cuttings, typescripts, manuscripts and notes and correspondence relating to his interests in Malagasy history and culture and to his missionary work with the London Missionary Society.
An example in this sense is the typescript manuscript of 'Methodist Plans for a Mission in Madagascar, 1816-1828' , with corrections and alterations by hand. This record includes a covering letter (dated 27 Dec 1967) from Hardyman in Madagascar discussing his desire to publish. The descriptive record is available here: https://www.archivesportaleurope.net/advanced-sear...
The collection includes photographs, postcards, illustrations, prints, engravings and sketches relating to Madagascar, and a collection of maps. The archive explicity reflects the overlap between Hardyman's professional life in Madagascar as a missionary and his interests concerning the island. The collection is particularly rich in material relating to missionary activity in Madagascar, in particular the London Missionary Society.
The collection covers a range of subjects and also includes a large number of works in the Malagasy language
Hardyman's correspondence with a wide range of academics and writers which are testimony of the rapport he held with fellow scholars of Malagasy history and culture, includes letters written mainly in English, Malagasy, French. Hardyman's own articles appear also in all three languages, as well as some content in Welsh, Norwegian, Portuguese, Italian and Latin.
Some instances of documents written in many different languages can be found among the "Deeds and papers relating to properties in Madagascar & Mauritius" (Reference: GB/102/CWM/LMS/01/07/1/6/01 - available here: https://www.archivesportaleurope.net/advanced-sear... ), which comprises a "set of documents including a plan London Missionary Society Properties at Tamatave, letters and agreements for land. Written in English and Malagasy" (1888) and the "Original Declaration respecting the proprietorship of the Madagascar Government in the Memorial Churches at Faravohitra, Ambatonakanga, Ampamarinana, Ambohipotsy, Fiadanana, also giving the use of the same to the London Missionary Society" dated 1 July 1865 also written in Malagasy.
You can browse the full list of archival descriptions related to the 'Hardyman Madacascar collection' on Archives Portal Europe at this link: https://www.archivesportaleurope.net/advanced-sear...